Readers Respond: The $3,726,686,000,000 question

“In the Bloomberg Business Week cover story (‘USA Inc.: Red, White, and Very Blue,’ Feb. 24), I read with interest Mary Meeker’s ideas on ‘America as a corporation’ and ‘We The People as its shareholders.’ She takes a long-range approach for the U.S. in asking the basic business questions, ‘Who would buy shares in America?’ and ‘What would a turnaround expert recommend for a company that lost more than $2 trillion (net operating cost) in 2010?’ 

“As the leader of the largest building materials and construction services company in the West, we operate one of the hardest hit markets, and that has yet to see the benefits of the ‘economic recovery.’ With the housing market still struggling, our industry has mirrored the larger problems facing the U.S. that Meeker refers to: threats from global competitors, underinvestment in technology, etc. A critical point Meeker makes, and with which I concur for the pro home channel industry, is to communicate the problems and point to a clear path forward. A good operator deals with adversity with a solid and realistic plan.

“Along with others in the industry, our company has certainly seen its share of difficult times over the past two years, but our management team has consistently communicated how the company will weather this storm and emerge even stronger from it. But, just as we preach internally to our team, we will control our future, not let the market dictate our course or hope a housing recovery bails out underperformers.

“At BMC, we operate in the way that Meeker suggests, and we tell our customers how we have reengineered the company to survive and thrive in this economy. Pro contractors expect value-add distributors to run efficiently and not over-leverage, or lose money year after year. Most effective distributors, when faced with adversity, construct a plan of immediate action when the market softens.

“Washington could use some lessons from our industry. Well-run businesses lead with a plan that targets cost and margin metrics. In the absence of a ‘live within the means’ plan from Congress or the White House, no one knows the targets and no one is held accountable. The result is a disabling deficit reduction course, which robs the current and future generations. There has never been a better time for bold actions, with sacrifices across the board, in order to right our ‘federal ship.’ Inaction or continuance of doing things the same way as the year before is ignorance on all levels.

“So what can both parties of Washington leadership learn from the home channel distribution business? Plenty. Those who lead and those who survive will be those who construct a plan, adhere to fiscal responsibility, and whose customers depend on them to remain healthy and well capitalized. We balance our checkbooks; Washington should as well. BMC is on a path back to prosperity and growth because we took the hard decisions and set achievable targets. In that sense, our core principles and values remain very much Red, White and Blue.”
— Peter Alexander
Boise, Idaho

“It’s immoral to steal from our kids in order to fulfill left-wing ideology.”

— Jeff Wilson
Muscle Shoals, Ala.

“I don’t feel it will help. I do think it will hurt -- both short and long term.”

— Name withheld

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